Matthew 5:33-48 – You Heard (Part II)

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Matthew 5:33-48—”Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Jesus Preaches the Sermon on the Mount

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Jesus continues to authoritatively preach today. Some of the words of Jesus in our text have become very well known – even if they aren’t directly quoted from Jesus. “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’” “Turn the other cheek.” “Go the extra mile.” “Love your enemies.” These sayings have become clichés and have lost most if not all of their bite.

The typical response we have to these commands from Jesus is to undermine them. We try to find excuses to get around, over, or under them. We avoid them at all costs thinking, “Jesus couldn’t really expect  me to be so gullible as to turn the other cheek. Jesus couldn’t really expect me and that vulnerable, could He? I’d get walked all over. Jesus couldn’t really mean to give to everyone who begs and wants to borrow, could He? If I followed Jesus’ commands here, I’d be beaten, naked, and broke. Jesus must be speaking figuratively here, right? Jesus knows that I have a right to protect myself. He knows that I have a right to my own things.”

But then Jesus has got you right where He wants you. You must remember that you are a creature, created by God, and as such you have no rights. Creatures do not have rights, plain and simple.  And we resist being creatures because creatures do not have rights. In its simplest form, sin is  denying our creatureliness, and making little gods out of ourselves. We, discontent with our creatureliness want to be like God. We put our fear, love, and trust in ourselves.

That is why so much of the world around us loves to accept the false teachings of the big bang, evolution, and things like that. If we are not creatures, then we are our own gods. Creatures are not their own; they are the property of their Creator. The sooner we learn that and live that out, the better.

Once we understand the truth that we are given everything – and I mean everything – as a gift, all sorts of things fall into place.

Creatures receive everything as a gift from the Creator. Your life is not your own. Your body is not your own. Your things are not your own. They are all gifts given to you by God the Father.

Based on this fact, Jesus can command you, “Do not take an oath at all. Do not take an oath by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is His footstool. Do not take an oath by your head because you cannot do even as simple a thing as make one single hair white or black.”

Jesus can command you, “Do not resist the one who is evil. If anyone wrongs you, remain vulnerable and turn the other cheek. Your cheeks are not your own anyway.”

People will take advantage of you. You will persecuted for living this way. Persecution will come in many different forms. You might not be nailed to a cross or thrown to wild animals for living this way. You might not be placed in front a firing squad. Christians in other lands have that persecution, but you will be persecuted here too. The persecution of death might be easier to face than the constant ridicule and scorn and loathsome pity that the world throws at you. You are called by God to fight the battle against the world and Satan in the persecutions that do come your way.

Jesus says that when people take advantage of you, when they persecute you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Love the people who hate you because if you only love the people who love you, then you will only love yourself, and you have fallen back into the error of being your own god.

In the final words of our text, Jesus sums it all up, “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Pause here:

This translation of “perfect” leaves something to be desired. When Jesus hung on the cross, before He gave up His spirit, Passion of Christ on the CrossHe cried out the same word. There it gets translated, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). The word means “whole,” “total,” “complete.” If you want to show that you are sons and daughters of God the Father, which He has said you are, you must be “complete.”

You will never be this on your own. You will always be found lacking. But if God the Father is your Father – and He declares that He is your Father – then He will make you, His child, whole, total, and complete. God does not have children that are anything less than complete. God will make you complete in Christ. He does this now by faith alone that He gives you. This faith receives the Word of God and says, “Yes, this Word of God, both Law and Gospel, is true and good.”

Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the founder (beginning) and perfecter (same word, completer) of your faith. He endured the cross that you and I nailed Him to as His sinful enemies.

When you, sinner, struck Jesus on the cheek, He turned His back to you and you whipped Him. But Jesus didn’t stop there. After He was whipped, He turned His hands and feet to sinners and received nails, then He turned His side and was pierced. Jesus turned His whole life over to you, His enemy, and was killed. While you did all of that, He prayed, “Father forgive them.” All of this He did in love for you so that you could be children of your Father who is in heaven. Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 5:21-32 – You Heard (Part I)

Jesus Preaches the Sermon on the Mount

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Matthew 5:21-32—“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fifty days after the Angel of Death passed over the land of Egypt killing every firstborn who was not protected by the blood of the lamb, God descended upon Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:1ff). God spoke to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you.” The mountain was wrapped in smoke because Yahweh had descended upon the mountain in fire. Smoke went up like a kiln, and the whole mountain shook, and the people trembled.

God commanded that limits be set around the mountain so the people would not go up. In fact, God commanded that anyone who touched the mountain should be killed – either stoned or shot.

Then God spoke for all the people to hear, “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

  1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
  2. “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain.
  3. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  4. “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
  5. “Thou shalt not kill.
  6. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  7. “Thou shalt not steal.
  8. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  9. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.
  10. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.”

As God spoke these words, the people were terrified. They feared the thunder, the flashes of lightning, and the sound of the trumpet of God. They said to Moses, “Do not let God speak to us, lest we die” (Ex. 20:19).

But Moses told the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off from the mountain backing away from the presence of God, but Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was (Ex. 20:21).

Moses and the people heard the same voice of God. They saw the same terrifying signs in the sky and on the earth. Everyone retreated from the mountain – except Moses. Moses went up to the thick darkness where God was.

Now Jesus is up on a mountain. Jesus speaks with the voice of God thundering against sin. Yes, Jesus is against sin. Some might even argue that the Son of God is harsher against sin than the Father. But all Jesus is doing is revealing God’s intention with regard to the Commandments.

The people listening to Jesus knew the Ten Commandments. They could recite them. But they had thought they could deflect the Law’s accusations off of them and remain mostly clean. But Jesus opens up the Commandments to their full condemning weight. Anger is murder. Insults condemn to hell. Looking is adultery. Divorce even causes innocent parties to sin. Jesus takes the Law and preaches it in its harshest form. Jesus uses the Law to condemn everyone.

You too are condemned by the Law Jesus preaches here. Do not think that you are not guilty of murder simply because you have not actually killed someone. You have killed in year heart many times. Do not think that because you have not had an affair that you are innocent of adultery. Do not even think that if you avoid pornography that you aren’t looking with lust. Do not think that your love for your spouse is pure. You hold grudges and do now love sacrificially. Your sin is more a part of you than you realize.

Sin is serious. Jesus says sin is serious enough that you should cut off body parts to avoid it. But you cannot cut enough of your body off. Your might be able to hide your sin so that it is not visible to others, but it is not hidden from God. You deserve hell. Your situation really is that bad. And if you don’t realize that, than Jesus has nothing to preach to you but Law.

If you can hear these words of Christ and not be pierced to the heart, if God’s holy presence on the mountain with thunder, lightning, and quaking does not strike fear into your soul, than you can go on your ignorant, merry little way. Mount Sinai is the only mountain of God for you, and it will always be covered in thick darkness. It will always thunder and shake against you.

But if Jesus’ words of Law from the mountain strike you and make you shudder, if you fear God and His wrath against your sins, then let me tell you about another mountain.

Jesus Himself quietly ascended it. Jesus climbed this mountain bearing your sins, and He hung on a cross for those sins.  On Golgotha, God poured out His wrath in against your sin in thunderings, earthquakes, and darkness. Jesus endured the wrath of God against your sin so that you could stand righteous and holy before God.

Because He loves you, God will not let you remain in bondage and slavery to sin. The Law leaves you nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. As you hear the Law, you find that God approaches with His wrath against your sin. He leaves you no escape. You find that God’s Law has backed you into death’s corner. The Law has removed any excuse for your sin and forces you to face Him.Blessings from the Cross

When you face Him, you find that He is the Savior from death. Fellow sinners, this is the Gospel. Jesus comes to you this morning. He comes to you to speak His words of comfort. He comes to you to say that God’s thunder is gone. The storm of wrath against sin is over, it has passed. You are no longer a slave to sin.

Remember how at Mount Sinai the people backed away from God while Moses approached the thick darkness? You see, Moses that he did not need to fear the God of thunder and thick darkness because that was the God who had delivered him and all of Israel out of Egypt out of the land of slavery. The God in the darkness was the God who passed over Egypt that night when terror and death filled the houses where no blood covered the doorposts. The God speaking His commands was the God who parted the Red Sea so the people could escape the deadly armies of Pharaoh.

Moses knew that the God hidden in thunder and darkness was the God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Ex. 34:6b-7a).

When you hear Jesus preaching the Law and convicting you of sin, remember that He is the very one who suffered and died for that sin. Your sin can no longer destroy you. “Sin can no more destroy [you] than it can destroy Christ. He has answered for it all. You are free” (Dr. Norman Nagel) Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 5:13-20 – You Are

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Matthew 5:13-20—“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? Salt and Light 1It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

People talk. People talk differently. Some people talk more than others, and some less. Some people talk and cannot help but be funny, and some can’t be funny no matter how hard they try. Some people talk so vividly that they paint pictures in your brain, and some talk blandly. Some people talk timidly and shyly, and some people talk with authority. When someone talks with authority, you tend to listen. But people can talk with authority even though they have absolutely no idea what they are speaking about.

I’ll admit that I have found myself talking as though I had authority about something. But I learn that the person to whom I am speaking actually is an expert. In those instances, I have learned that foot fits in my mouth very well.

In today’s Gospel text, Jesus is preaching what is known as “The Sermon on the Mount” and we will be considering the first chapter of this sermon (Mt. 5) over the next three weeks.

Before we get into the sermon, I want you to consider for a moment how the crowds of disciples respond to Jesus’ sermon. Matthew records (Mt. 7:28-29), “When Jesus completed these words, the crowds were being astonished at His teaching, for He was teaching them with the conviction that He had authority, and not as their scribes taught” (trans. Dr. Jeffrey Gibbs). Jesus speaks with authority because Jesus knows what He is talking about. Jesus could speak with authority on any subject. But in this particular portion of the sermon, Jesus is speaking about His disciples. Jesus is speaking about you, believer.

When Jesus says something about you, it is important to listen. So what is Jesus saying about you, believer? Well, to understand our text today, we need to go back a few verses to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount – to the Beatitudes.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives you blessings. Listen to what He says.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, Jesus says that people who have nothing to offer God and can never get their act together, these people are blessed. They are so blessed they are saved – the reign of heaven is theirs. All the gifts of the King – forgiveness, life, identity, community – all belong to people who have nothing to give God.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Jesus says that people who are sad because they see that the earth is rotting and dark, they are blessed. They are blessed because, one day, God will take all their sadness and mourning away.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” People who are powerless are blessed because they will get to live forever in God’s new heaven and new earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” People who know things are not right in the world are blessed. They are blessed because God will one day make it right.

Do you hear this? Well, keep listening. Jesus goes on.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Merciful people are blessed because they will get God’s mercy on the last day. God will cover their sins.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” People who have their hearts set on God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and on no other false god will be blessed. They will see God face to face.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” People who make peace will be called God’s sons and daughters because God gives them peace.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus says that when this world hassles you and persecutes you, you are blessed. Then to make sure you know that all these blessings are for you, Jesus adds, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you.” You are blessed because God’s eternal, kingly gifts belong to you.

Do you hear this? Jesus is talking to you. Jesus is talking about you. Believe Him. He speaks with authority. God does not lie. When God speaks, He only speaks the truth. Jesus, the Son of God, speaks about how things really are. In fact, God’s Word creates reality.

So now, we come to v. 13-14 and Jesus is still speaking with authority. He says, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” Notice, this is not a command. This is not an exhortation. This is not a scenario you are to make happen. Jesus simply says what is. Believe Him. Jesus is not yanking your chain. He is not trying to make a fool out of you. Jesus is simply saying what is. He says, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”

The earth is in bad shape, it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The earth needs salt. Jesus says that you, believer, are that salt. The world is a dark place. This world needs light. Jesus says you, believer, are that light.

Even though Jesus speaks with authority you can, of course, chose to not believe Jesus. You can chose to deny the truth. But then things become pretty absurd. Jesus addresses this. He postulates, “What would happen if salt lost its taste? Well, then it is good for nothing but to be cast out and be trampled by people.” That does not sound good.

Jesus says, “You cannot hide a city on a hill.” Being residents of the Red River Valley, you may not know what hills are. They are places where the ground actually rises up kind of like the dike, but even bigger. If you built a city on one of those, it would be pretty hard to hide, right?

Jesus goes on, “How silly would it be to light a lamp in a dark house and then put a bucket over it?” Well, that would be dangerous. It would be foolish and dumb.

So, don’t be absurd. Believe Jesus when He says, “You are the salt of the earth.” Don’t be foolish and dumb. Believe Jesus when He says, “You are the light of the world.”

Jesus says you are salt and light in order to make a difference in the world. Jesus says that your good works are like light in the darkness of this world. Those good works give the world light to see what God is like. When people, believers or unbelievers, see your good works, they will give God the glory.

Jesus doesn’t give you any parameters of what good works to do. Jesus doesn’t give you any specific works to do, so the door is wide open. You don’t have to look far to find places to do good works. Maybe it will be in your own home, maybe it will be in your job, maybe it will be for a friend, maybe it will be for a total stranger – you can find good works to do all around you no matter where you are.

Jesus does give a command here. Our translation renders Jesus’ words in v. 16, “Let your light shine.” That translation makes the word ‘let’ or ‘allow’ the command. It puts the command on you. But do not think that it is somehow up to you to somehow allow your light to shine. No, Jesus’ command here is not to you – the Greek is very clear. The command is “shine,” literally “Shine the light of you.” It is a good thing that Jesus speaks His command to your light because you already know that light obeys the voice of God. When God created the world He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Gen. 1:3). Here Jesus, the Son of God, commands the light within you to shine, and it does.

So, even though you are part of this dark world and even though you are part of the problem, Jesus’ words still have authority. Even though your sin casts darkness all around you. Jesus is the true light who comes to the darkness of this sin-filled world (Jn. 1:4-5). Even though you love the darkness rather than the light because your deeds are evil (Jn. 3:19), Jesus says that you, believer, are the light of the world.

It is pretty easy to despair when you hear Jesus command your light to shine. It is easy to hunger and thirst for your light to shine because so often you see that it does not. It is easy to mourn and weep because you cast such long and dark shadows. It is easy to realize that you fail precisely because you are poor in spirit.

But when that happens, remember Jesus’ words. “You are blessed. You are blessed because I give you forgiveness, life, and salvation.” And believe Jesus when He declares, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now and forever. Amen.

Luke 2:22-40 – Set Free

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Luke 2:22-40—And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,Jesus presented in the Temple Simeon

according to your word;

30 for my eyes have seen your salvation

31          that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

What have you been doing the last 40 days? Today is the 40th day after Christmas, so we celebrate the purification of Mary and Jesus. And we celebrate it by hearing the Song of Simeon, the Nunc Dimittis.

Simeon knew he was going to die. He knew that because of his sin, he was subject to a life of slavery to death (Heb. 2:14-15). However, God revealed to Him that he would not die until his eyes saw the Messiah. So, when 40-day-old infant Jesus came with Joseph and Mary to the Temple, Simeon rejoiced. Simeon saw the baby Jesus, and knew this was the Lord’s Christ.

Maybe, if God told us that we would not die until we saw something, we would pretend like we didn’t see it even though it was right before us. Maybe we would fight against seeing God’s promise because we would not want to taste the sting of death. But instead of fighting against death, Simeon embraced the Child and welcomed his death.

Simeon took the infant Jesus in his arms and held Him knowing that now he could die in peace. Simeon says, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon goes on to speak of Jesus as a “sign that is opposed.” Luke has already spoken of Jesus as a sign. The shepherds are told, “This shall be a sign for you – you will find a baby” (Lk. 2:12). Forty days later, the same infant Child of Mary and Joseph, was a sign of Simeon’s death. Yet, Simeon does not see his death as something to avoid. Instead, he sees it as God allowing him to be “set free” in peace.

The church has incorporated Simeon’s song into the evening service called ‘Compline’; in that service, Simeon’s song is the final prayer before going to sleep. That is a beautiful picture isn’t it? God gives his beloved sleep (Ps. 127:2). Recognizing that God has led you through your day and brought you to your place of rest is fitting.

Communion Cross with JesusAnother place where the church has incorporated Simeon’s song is in response to receiving Holy Communion. After receiving the true body and blood of Christ it is right and good to join your heart with Simeon’s words. As Simeon received the infant Jesus in his arms, you too have received the fulfillment of God’s promise on your lips and in your mouth.

Just like Simeon was told that he would see the Messiah who would save Israel, you too see the Savior. Jesus says that you receive Him as Savior in His Supper, “This is My body; this is My blood of the new covenant shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”

Simeon did not see an impressive Messiah, but only a 40-day-old Child. You do not see a grand spectacle either, rather bread and wine.

In that Baby, Simeon saw God’s salvation. In Communion, you too see God’s salvation which is prepared for all people. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the only Savior, and the Good News of Him is good tidings for all people. We, and all people of the world, need to be saved because we are helpless. We are in bondage to sin. We are dead in sin.

In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus the Savior comes to us. Communion is not some sort of spiritual energy drink that revs you up. The Lord’s Supper is not just a different way to end a worship service. Instead, the Lord’s Supper is sustenance for sinners in their walk through this dark and sinful world. Sinners need this Supper; sinners need this food. Every time you come for Communion, Jesus gives to you His body and His blood for the forgiveness of your sins.

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace.” We sinners need that peace. Left to ourselves, we will never have peace. But having been justified by faith, we have peace with God only through our Lord Jesus Christ (Ro. 5:1).

Body of Christ CommunionBecause of the Lord’s Supper, you can join with Simeon and embrace, yes embrace, death. You can embrace death because you are joined with the One who conquered death. Where is death’s victory, where is death’s sting? It is gone because of the victory of Christ which He gives here to you.

Come, taste with your own mouth and see with your own eyes that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8). Then depart in peace for your eyes have seen the salvation which the Lord has prepared before the face of all people. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and shall be forever world without end. Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus now and to all eternity. Amen.